In a remarkable departure from her long-standing, tight-lipped policy against discussing her personal life, Hillary Clinton gushed about her marriage to husband Bill in a recent interview.
The disclosure was so significant that Rick Klein and Nancy Flores of ABC’s “The Note” wrote it was a big step in the “great softening of Hillary Clinton.”
Other Clinton watchers, however, say the effort is nothing more than a calculated public relations campaign to humanize Mrs. Clinton and quiet questions about her marital relationship.
Essence, a fashion magazine targeted to black women, published an interview online on October 22 in which Clinton called her husband a “romantic” and showed off a Chanel watch he had brought her home from a trip.
She pointed to the watch band, made of white ceramic pieces and said, “I had dental surgery, and he said it reminded him of teeth.”
Biographer Sally Bedell Smith, author of the newly-released “For the Love of Politics” which closely examines the Clinton’s relationship, said in a phone interview that this kind of media outreach was part of a long-standing political “pattern” the Clintons have used.
She said the Clintons have always “very carefully released tidbits [of their personal lives] that don’t contain that much information.”
“Neither one is going to say how they really interact with each other and it’s always their private conversations other people are trying to figure out,” Smith explained.
In the Essence interview, Clinton also entertained questions about her husband’s infidelity. She said “I have never doubted that it was a marriage worth investing in even in the midst of those challenges, and I'm really happy that I made that decision."
Smith said this wasn’t news either. “From the very beginning she tolerated his infidelity. She just decided that she was going to put up with it because there were various advantages to that.” Smith remarked, “Bill has always given her little gifts….usually when he has misbehaved and needs to win her favor back.”
Emmett Tyrell, founder and editor of the American Spectator and author of “The Clinton Crackup,” said Mrs. Clinton’s “whole life is a public relations campaign.” In order to win in 2008, he said it would be “politically important” for Clinton to discuss her marriage, but “it’s pretty difficult to explain the inexplicable.”
He called her the “greatest enabler in the world.”
Clinton’s chief strategist Mark Penn has told the media many women will vote for Clinton because she will be the first woman on a presidential ballot, but Smith said that Clinton wasn’t a “pure choice” for many women.